Aim: Initiating antipsychotic medication frequently induces rapid, clinically significant weight gain. We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a lifestyle and life skills intervention, delivered within 4 weeks of antipsychotic medication initiation, in attenuating weight gain in youth aged 14-25 years with first-episode psychosis (FEP).
Methods: We undertook a prospective, controlled study in two early psychosis community services. Intervention participants (n = 16) received a 12-week individualized intervention delivered by specialist clinical staff (nurse, dietician and exercise physiologist) and youth peer wellness coaches, in addition to standard care. A comparison group was recruited from a similar service and received standard care (n = 12).
Results: The intervention group experienced significantly less weight gain at 12 weeks compared to standard care (1.8 kg, 95% CI -0.4 to 2.8 vs. 7.8 kg, 4.8-10.7, P < 0.001). Thirteen per cent (2/16) of the intervention group experienced clinically significant weight gain (greater than 7% of baseline weight), while 75% (9/12) of the standard care group experienced this level of weight gain. Similar positive effects of the intervention were observed for waist circumference.
Conclusions: A lifestyle and life skills intervention delivered as part of standard care attenuated antipsychotic-induced weight gain in young people with FEP. The intervention was acceptable to the young people referred to the service. Such interventions may prevent the seeding of future disease risk and in the long-term help reduce the life expectancy gap for people living with serious mental illness.
Keywords: first-episode psychosis; lifestyle intervention; weight gain.
© 2015 Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.